Antarctica Cruise Vacations

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Antarctica cruise vacations meander through the southern waters of South America, Drake Passage, the Scotia Sea, and the South Atlantic Ocean. Nearer to the Antarctica Peninsula, there are quite a few seas that bear the names of famous explorers who reached the area: Weddell Sea, Bellinghausen Sea, and Amundsen Sea. All are frequently explored by ships that sail to Antarctica. As this entire region is subject to violent seas and storms, Antarctica cruises always have contingency plans for other ports, harbors, or channels to explore.

An area, which is usually on a ship's itinerary for Antarctica cruise vacations, consists of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. These are among the most desolate lands on earth, but the mountainous beauty of their terrain is unforgettable. Discovered by Captain James Cook in 1775, South Georgia lies nearly 800 miles north of the Antarctic Circle and 1,200 miles due east of Drake Passage.

Antarctica Cruise Vacations and Southern Ocean Islands

The islands are far from Drake Passage, but that doesn't prevent this constricted waterway from directly affecting the climate of the islands. The westerly winds force their way through Drake Passage and lead to the harsh weather on South Georgia. Uninhabited except for a small British military unit and a British research team, the island offers stunning views of glacial peaks, many of which rise over 6,000 feet high; the highest is 9,625 feet high.

Indeed, glaciers cover almost 60 percent of the island, and drifting icebergs that have broken off from Antarctica frequently dot the waters around the island. There are no native inhabitants of any of these islands, and the South Sandwich Islands are still uninhabited. South Georgia, however, is one of the world's greatest seabird islands with incredible numbers of penguins: Magellanic, Rockhopper, King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, and Adele. The types of petrels are equally impressive: Wilson's storm-petrel, Antarctic giant-petrel, Cape petrel, and snow petrel. Antarctica cruise vacations visit these extraordinary lands and permit sea kayaking and other sea/land activities if the weather allows.

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